Ok but just one more set of snow pictures as a farewell to a happy winter. And also because it’s snowing this morning. The little wooden sled is for sale. $10. Any takers?
Since Spring seems to be making an appearance more seriously, I figured I needed to hurry and get this last snowshoeing post up. There’s always a chance we’ll get another snow hike in this season, but these are the shots from our latest. These pictures were taken on the -17 (+1.4 Fahrenheit) windy last day of March.
We first attempted the hike in January but we got rained out, ironically. Nose Hill, you see, is not that far from our home. We thought it would be fairly easy to just carry our snowshoes to the base of the hill, strap them on and hike the trails. It just seemed our luck was so bad that every day when our schedule was free to go, it was either too cold to take a baby out or it was too warm for the snow to stick around. And finally one day it worked out! It was a little colder than we anticipated, but successful nonetheless. We had Family Home Evening on the Mount, with a lesson based on the Sermon on the Mount and a few hymns to carol through the trees.
(Click image for full size)
(Click here to read Lake O’Hara – Part 1)
We snapped a few dusky photos at the lake and headed back to the cabin. We lugged along a tripod to catch some night sky shots, but we were both so tired by dark that we decided just to stay in.
By the time we made it back to the cabin, we could smell everyone else’s dinners. Kate and Lara had some amazing smelling curry, and they were kind enough to share some yams with us, a nice side dish for our pasta with tuna. The cabin was fully equipped with pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and a propane stove. There was a constant cycling of melting snow being boiled for consumption, and an outhouse next door.
I was excited to finally have a night of uninterrupted sleep, being away from my baby who still wakes every 2 hours. It wasn’t exactly what I hoped for though. The late night scotch binge kept a lot of our cabin companions making trips to the outhouse during the night and I heard every single one of them. Ah well. At least we both felt pretty well rested in the morning.
We left the cabin just before dawn. The mountains seemed to glow against the twilight sky with the full moon shining on them. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It was just magic.
I realize now that we really didn’t take many pictures of the cabin’s surroundings during the daylight. We were so intent on our rescue mission that I really didn’t spend much time with the camera. These pre-dawn photos are cool, but it seemed like a totally different place during the day.
We didn’t take too much time to linger on the way down because M had to be back to Calgary, showered, dressed, and ready for a 3-Minute Thesis competition. But that’s a story for another day.
Just past Lake Louise and into Yoho National Park, there’s a small road that reaches 12 km up from the Trans-Canada Highway to Lake O’Hara. After we kissed the baby goodbye, we headed for the mountains, reaching the trailhead around noon. The day was perfect for a hike. The sun was warm, there was fresh snow and partly cloudy skies. Every step of the trek had a spectacular view of mountains and tall trees.
We were the only snowshoers on the road that day. Everyone else took cross-country skis, which makes for a faster trip, especially on the way down. I think it took us about 5 hours up and 4 down. Some said they could ski out in only 90 minutes. About half-way through the hike we encountered these vagabonds:
Kate and Lara are true mountain girls. They are no strangers to the outdoors. But they definitely got more than they bargained for. They were each pulling a child in a Chariot behind. Tinder was 8 months old–just 5 days older than E–and Layla was 2, and a whopping 34 pounds. That’s quite a lot of weight to pull. Including diaper changes and nursing breaks, they took 10 hours to do what we did in 5. Every time I wanted to take a break I would just think about them. They were working so much harder than me.
There were some steep stretches toward the end of the hike, but the worst part was the last 500 meters or so. It was a very narrow passage with steep drop-offs in a couple places, and the terrain was very up-and-down. As we were going through we could see the tracks of one skier who actually took off his/her skis to walk through the worst part, and then returned to skiing after 100-200 meters. Of course the only thing we could think of was how on earth a Chariot would make it through here (Okay truthfully, it wasn’t the only thing I was thinking about. I was also wondering when I could take off my pack. It was heavy and this was my first time backpacking).
Past that narrow neck, the trail opens up into a clearing. We could see the puff of the chimney off to the left, which was encouraging for sure, but we had to just stop in our tracks and look up. An amazing panorama of jagged mountains surrounding us on all sides. It felt as though we were walking through an optical illusion. The toothy mountains seemed distant and close at the same time. It was at that point when M said this might be his favorite hike in the Rockies. Really, I said? Even better than the Valley of the 6 Glaciers? Yes. We’ll still do that hike this summer though.
After drinking in the scenery for a few minutes, we dropped our packs at the cabin. There are two cabins, actually. One has about 8 beds, the other has 12 beds and a kitchen. In the main cabin, there was a crowd–one couple from Saskatchewan who does this hike every winter, and who skied in that morning. Then there were about 7 or 8 men from Alberta who seemed to have been there for quite a few days. They were playing cribbage and eating oysters with goat cheese. We made it a quick pit stop, and were on the trail again very soon. We wanted to go back and help Lara and Kate with the kids.
They were nearly 2 kilometers away from the cabin when we found them, and ready for a break. M and I both took a turn pulling the Chariots for a while (that’s me, above in the purple). When the trail got narrow, each Chariot had one pushing and one pulling to steer through. Kate was impatient and frustrated though, and maybe she had too much faith in me steering behind her. Timber wasn’t buckled in properly and the Chariot lost its footing when Kate aggressively tried pulling through (Seriously, I don’t know how she still had so much energy). We recovered quickly, but I think it was that incident that started a lot of swearing. From Kate, not me. She apologized later.
The crew was already stoking a fire in the small cabin for the two moms. Once we escorted them to the door, we were off again, finally to see the lake.
To be continued…
Also, I promise to get pictures up this week of our snowshoeing/backpacking retreat. It’s already been 3 weeks since we went, and it’s been on my to-do list ever since! But here’s a little preview of what’s coming.
We have mixed feelings about moving to Arizona, you know. On one hand we’re excited to be close to some family and friends there. We’re excited about pleasant weather for so much of the year. We’re excited to escape head wounds from slipping on the ice. We’re excited to escape days like we’ve had the past 2 weeks, where it’s so cold you don’t go outside with a baby for fear of frostbite.
But on the other hand, there are days in Tucson where it’s so hot you don’t go outside for fear of heatstroke.
You win some, you lose some.
But at least we’re not moving to Edmonton!
M has been doing some research with a professor at the University of Alberta, and he had to drive up to visit for the beginning of an experiment. We decided to make a family trip out of the occasion. It was very cold. To be fair, it was really about the same temperature as Calgary that day, but Edmonton certainly wasn’t trying hard to win me over.
E and I spent the majority of the day at the West Edmonton Mall while M was at the University (the other UofA). I’m not really into mall-walking (although I have learned it is a favorite pass-time of Canadian mums in the winter time) but I couldn’t just live this close to the largest mall in North America without paying a visit. We mostly looked at the attractions and bought some chips and salsa at the Asian grocery store inside. Yes, really. E liked the roller coasters best, though the skating rink was a big hit as well.
We stayed with some dear friends of ours–another Canadian-American couple that used to live in Calgary. It was lovely to see them and E made a new friend who is 1 pound heavier than her, but only half her age! They call him “Big Ben.”
And seriously, we’ll probably be pining for those occasional -40 (-40F) day when it’s +40 (104F) in Tucson.